Procedure: Sleeve Gastrectomy
Surgeons: Dr. Oh & Dr. Hirai
Date of surgery: March 2009
Height: 5’ 6”
Weight before surgery: 382 lbs.
Total weight loss: 155 lbs

What was life like before sleeve gastrectomy surgery?

I was on medications for diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, water retention and anxiety. All of my joints hurt from the extra weight I was carrying around. I was unable to participate physically with my family and I was missing out on being able to enjoy my grandchildren while they were young.

Why did you decide to have weight loss surgery?

I had tried every diet but nothing ever worked. Jenny Craig, Weight Watchers, TOPS, Nutri-system and of course the Phen-Phen diet. I had been researching surgery for years but could never afford it and my insurance refused to pay for anything related to obesity. Eventually my husband and family knew how badly I wanted and needed it so we cashed in a 401K after we decided my children and grandchildren would rather have me alive and healthy now than have my money when I was dead.

What has been your biggest post-surgery challenge?

I guess I count myself lucky that I haven’t found my life after surgery to have any significant challenges.

How has weight loss surgery changed your life?

I now have a tremendous amount of energy. My joints don’t ache constantly and my feet and ankles no longer swell up. I can now do all the activities I haven’t been able to do for so many years. My self-esteem has improved 100%. I can now walk into a room of people I don’t know with my head held high instead of with my eyes downward hoping people won’t stare at me because of how large I am. I no longer am afraid of sitting down on a chair when offered for fear it might break from my weight. These are just a few examples. People are now taking the time to get to know the “real me” not just judging me on my outer experience.

What is your advice for others considering weight loss surgery?

Make sure that you thoroughly research the different types of surgeries available. Make sure that you have a complete understanding of what is expected before and after the surgery. Understand that in order for the surgery to be a success you will have to make a lot of changes for life. The surgery is just a tool to help you with your goal.

Surgery is a life long commitment. Discuss it with your family and gain their support. Realize that surgery is just a few hours, it takes time for your body to heal and more time for your mind to understand and accept the surgery.

To be successful, follow the doctor’s instructions and recommendations, all of them, not just the easy ones. Realize that surgery is to improve your overall health, not to make you look perfect. There is a good chance that you will have excess skin after the weight loss so be prepared for that. Understand the risks involved, ask a lot of questions so you can make an informed decision.